Talking with Like-Minded People- Equality and Efficacy in Enclave Deliberation

Seminar 1   25 February 2014

Venue:        Building 24, Copland, Room 1171, LJ Hume Centre

Speaker:     Kimmo Grönlund is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Social Science Research Institute at Åbo Akademi University. He is the Principal Investigator of the Finnish National Election Study and Convenor (together with Prof. Brigitte Geißel) of the ECPR Standing Group on Democratic innovations. His major research interests include political behavior in general and electoral behavior in particular, the role of social and institutional trust in democracy, as well as experimental research, especially on citizen deliberation. He has published on the topics in journals such as the European Political Science Review, Political Studies, Scandinavian Political Studies, Electoral Studies and the American Review of Public Administration. His newest book, “Deliberative Mini-Publics – Involving Citizens in the Democratic Process” (edited together with André Bächtiger and Maija Setälä) will be published by the ECPR Press in 2014.

Paper Title:  Talking with Like-Minded People- Equality and Efficacy in Enclave Deliberation

Paper Abstract:  Enclave deliberation refers to discussion among like-minded people. From a democratic point of view, enclave deliberation can be expected to have both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand it can increase participatory equality: people who are less well-endowed to face political disagreement, i.e. persons with low education or work status, minority groups, but also women, have been found to gain from having the opportunity to discuss politics with their peers before entering a wider arena. On the other hand, enclave deliberation may lead to group polarization and an amplification of cognitive errors. In order to study how deliberative norms and group composition affect the “empowering” aspect of different kinds of people, we use data from a population-based experiment (n = 207). The participants deliberated in small-n groups on immigration. The composition of the groups was subject to manipulation. Randomly allocated, some participants deliberated in groups consisting of people with similar baseline views on immigration (like-minded treatment), whereas others deliberated in groups where both restrictive and permissive participants were present (mixed treatment). All groups had identical deliberative norms for discussion. The dependent variables of our paper are discussion activity and political efficacy. We hypothesize that 1) participants with low political resources are more active in like-minded than in mixed groups, and that 2) participants with low resources gain more political efficacy in like-minded than in mixed groups. Contrary to our hypotheses, we find that deliberating with like-minded people does not have the assumed empowering effects on participants with low resources. In fact, the mixed performed better in this aspect. Based on the results, we conclude that deliberation differs from other kinds of discussion and that deliberative norms per se have a positive impact on how people with less resources can face disagreement.


Date & time

Tue 25 Feb 2014, 12am


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